March 12th, 2008
01:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama camp: Clinton won't compete in battlegrounds

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The Obama campaign says Clinton can't compete in key states."](CNN) - Barack Obama’s presidential campaign manager said Wednesday Hillary Clinton’s campaign had “waved the white flag” in what he said was a potential fall battleground state.

The Clinton campaign responded that Obama’s team was looking to divert focus from the upcoming Pennsylvania primary, where the New York senator has held a significant advantage in most recent polls.

They have pointed out that many of the states that Obama has won by large margins during the primary process are not states the Democratic Party is likely to carry this fall, with senior adviser Harold Ickes telling the New York Times Wednesday that Obama’s victories there would be “virtually irrelevant to the general election.”

On a conference call with reporters, Plouffe did look to lower expectations in Pennsylvania. “We do not view this as a race now solely about the state of Pennsylvania,” he said, adding that the Clinton campaign was “the prohibitive favorite. They should win by a healthy margin given where they start.

“We’ll campaign hard there, we’ll try and get as many votes and delegates as we can, but our campaign will not be defined by Pennsylvania.”

He added that that the Clinton campaign’s contention that a Democrat could not win a fall bout in North Carolina – a state where Obama is expected to do well when primary voters head to the polls in May – “speaks to their weakness in the general election.

“We think we can win the state of North Carolina. Clinton has already waved the white flag... North Carolina will be a central battleground if Obama is our nominee," said Plouffe. The campaign also released an assessment of Obama’s general election chances in some of the biggest states.

Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer immediately responded: “The path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue goes through Pennsylvania. So if Barack Obama can’t win there, how will he win the general election?”

- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (241 Responses)
  1. Rick in Florida

    Clinton's flawed premise is that just because she beat Obama in some big states, somehow they'll go to McCain in Nov if Obama is the nominee. These are all BLUE states, folks, and they will go with whichever Dem wins the nomination, so saying Obama will lose them to McCain, just because she beat Obama there in the primary, is ridiculous... flawed in its basic premise. DON'T BE FOOLED!!

    March 12, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  2. Gerri

    Sen. Obama will win by being honest with the people of the U.S. of American.

    March 12, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. Rita

    I am so sick of the Clinton campaign stating that just because noone has ever won without winning certain states before that it won't be possible to win the election. Clinton wouldn't do well in swing states anyway if it wasn't for Obama bringing so many new registered Democrats out to vote and blowing out the turnout of Republicans. The Obama campaign has done essentially everything different that the way things are usually done and has done amazingly well. All I have to say to the Clinton camp is: THERE'S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING

    March 12, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. get real

    The I won the big state argument is weak. Realistically speaking most of the big states that Hillary won will go democratic regardless of who the nominee is. The question is can we turn purple states blue, and bordeline red states blue as well. Those are the states Obama has been winning and that is what makes him more electable in the general election. Also note, that while Hillary may have won the big states, she barely won them, but the red and purple states that Obama won, he won by large margins. Hillary is a good canidate, but realistically if we want a democrat in the White house, Obama is the one that can definitely beat McCain.

    March 12, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  5. Curliss


    Clinton has now twice reach out to run on a joint-ticket, so they could end this cut-throat race for the nomination and save the democratic party...Obama rejects/renounces it. Not a good sign, for a man who claims he is a uniter.....he is more like a divider. I HOPE the super delegates will pick the rightful candidate...when you include FLA/MI Hillary has then won just about every big state that matters.


    March 12, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  6. Gary Mitchell - Vancouver WA

    Just as the Bush didn't compete in the Blue States and wasn't the President of them, Hillary would seek to be a fly over President and forget the rest. Comments let go by the Clinton campaign signifies that she is out of touch with mainstream America and a President needs to be President of all the States. That is why the Obama approach of reconciliation is the best. It is about time we sought to heal the fractures that have separated us as a people and find the common ground necessary to move this country forward to a better tomarrow.

    March 12, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  7. Enrique

    The path to Pennsylvania Ave for a Democratic nomination candidate is to win as many delegates as possible. Someone needs to tell Hillary that she's behind on that front.

    March 12, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  8. christine

    Clinton compaign should not choose were to campaign and were not to compaign this is about changing the country so red states or blue states they should compaign hard anywere any states because if you choose were to compaign and call for uniting the country or change the you are not telling the truth to the american people, they need to compete in every state like obama is doing, because is she doesnt and she will loose to mccain all those red states and the indepent votes are needed, We are no longer in the 90's this is 2008, so you cant keep on saying if i win big the big states i should win the nomination, no i think those states no matter who the democrat is in november they will vote for that person so she needs to win in some of the red states get new democrats that is the idea, and obama is doing well in that area

    March 12, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  9. CNNModeration_Post_This_One,NY

    I have a question for the Clinton campaign:
    If all of the states don't matter what's the point of campaigning in all of them ????
    I have the answer : The point is to having delegates
    This is what primaries/caucus are about
    as they understand they can't catch in pledged delegates, they're making this silly argument, ANYTHING TO GET ELECTED !!!
    Listening to them, only states they carried matter

    March 12, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  10. Jim, American in Paris

    Obama is unelectable and would lose in November.

    He has not won one of the biggest states and would lose in Florida to John McCain as well as one or two other states such as Ohio, Texas and perhaps California.

    The Democrats will lose the whole thing with him.

    On the other hand, Hillary Clinton would certainly win Florida and and most of the other delegate rich states the Democrats need to win in November.

    Once again, Obama is dreaming.

    March 12, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  11. Mary

    My GPS tells me there is another way you can get to 600 PA ave. Looks like from PA Hillary is going to the white house while Obama has to fight alittle more the remaining states. Clintons are only thinking about why they should win this election. Can someone tell me how rediculus this is?

    March 12, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  12. Ross

    The path that Ronald Reagan took to the White House in 1984 was through 48 states and Mondale and Ferraro won two. I think Obama's plan to go to all states is far superior to the Clinton/Bush/Rove/Kerry/Gore strategy of trying to win only certain states. Are all Americans and all States equal? There are not red states and blue states as Obama has said and his working majority includes all demographics. Because you do not win a certain state or a demographic vote does not mean that latinos, white men, senior women, asians and others are not voter for him. So far 13 million Americans have voted for him and they are Amercian voters – regardless of thier Mark Penn demographic and the Clinton plan to pit one group against the other – she and her advisors keep dismissing certain states and caucuses as Red States and not a real vote. 13 million Amercian voters beg to differ.

    March 12, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. John, Las Vegas, NV

    OK, the rest of the country needs to get this straight. There is one set of rules for the Clintons, and another set of rules for everyone else in the country. Likewise, states that Clinton wins matter, whereas states where Clinton loses do not matter. Hence, in Hillary's mind she is now crushing Barack Obama because his delegate and popular vote lead is only the result of having won in states that do not matter.

    March 12, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  14. Chris

    That last Clinton sentence is so cheesy, it's the new "Change you can Xerox".

    March 12, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  15. mary

    So who won Texas? Obama !

    CNN projected yesterday that Obama was the winner of the Texas Democratic caucuses that occurred March 4. Obama will be awarded 38 of Texas's delegates, while Clinton will win 29 delegates as a result of the caucuses, CNN estimates.And though Clinton won more delegates than Obama in the primary, 65 to 61, Obama's wider delegate margin in the caucuses gives him the overall statewide delegate lead, 99 to 94

    March 12, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  16. Scott in Boston

    You cannot win the presidency without winning Ohio. If it's, Obama and McCain – McCain will win. If it's, Clinton and McCain – Clinton will win. The Super Delegates know this therefore, in the end [like it or not] they will choose Clinton. Ps. Many feel the same goes for Florida although you can lose Florida and squeak out a win...

    March 12, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  17. NancyD

    I think Obama should campaign in Pennsylvania – let the people there get to know him as well. I think Clinton would be in for a surprise!

    March 12, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  18. Bill

    If, and I say if, someone stops dividing the party, the candidate with the most delegates will win the nomination. When this happens, if Democrats aren't too put off by the lies and negative ads hurled at the winner, the party and it's members will vote for our next President, Barack Obama.

    March 12, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  19. CJ, Calif

    I hate to be a buzz-kill around all of this exciting talk about race, gender, re-dos, he said-she said, they said-we said, Saturday Night Live, 3 am phone calls, white flags, bla bla bla.

    Whatever happened to Iraq, immigration, recession, foreclosures...? I'm sick of both of these two and I am beginning to lean to the right.

    March 12, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  20. Spin...spin...spin

    What the Obama camp is ignoring is that they will loose more Clinton supporters than what they will ever dream in picking up. Obama cannot win the general election without the BIG states that Clinton has won, and he won't take some of those in the general election.

    The Obama camp is sending out the kool-aide and pie in the sky again. They are misleading the public into believing what they want – but without the big states and that will include Florida – Obama will loose the general election – no matter what percentage of black votes he gets.

    So – a vote for Obama is to put McCain into the White House

    A vote for Clinton is to put a Democrat into the White House!

    March 12, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  21. Alicia

    The only thing I will say is the General Election is not based on the out come of a few states, It is all of America. To focus on certain areas is one of the reason this country is in the shape it is. California, Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are not the only states hoping we will gain a President who will keep us out of recession. AMERICA is hoping for that President to be elected. These candidates need to focus on the issues at hand and not who is doing or saying what. And as far as these campaign spokemen, they all need to be dropped as they are the only ones spreading falsities about the candidates. I want to hear from the Presidential candidates themselves. If they didn't speak it, I DON'T CARE!

    March 12, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  22. John

    Oh... boy another negative story about Hillary, what a surpise CNN. You guys had half a story on Obama's double talk regarding NAFTA and Canada, but go after Hillary all the time. I can understand her not spending a lot of time in Mississippi, all the blacks were going to vote for Obama anyway, regardless of his record. The way things are going even if Hillary did spend time in the "Battle" ground states you would find some problem in that too.

    March 12, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  23. Chris

    When we look at the number of Obama supports coupled with the Clinton supports that said they could vote for either candidate, Obama comes out on top.

    I am a registered Republican and a member of the United Federation of TEachers and will vote democrat if Obama is the nominee. If Clinton is the nominee I will vote for McCain.

    Lastly, lets look at the number of years that Obama and Clinton have been in an elected position (no being first lady doesnt make that an elected position) we clearly see that Obama has more experience.

    Obama '08

    March 12, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  24. jp/michigan

    What wrong CNN that American voters can leave a comment on your site?

    March 12, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  25. Slap Stick, FLORIDA

    Keep in mind Clinton Camp that Pennsylvania Ave is in one state and Obama is representing the United States so there is more than one way to get through the Clinton's dog and pony show.

    Obama 08
    America says Yes We Can!!

    March 12, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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